There were moments throughout his childhood I thought we’d never reach this moment. He was always defying the odds, this boy of mine.
At birth, infection ravaged his small little frame and the doctors had the talk with us. “Prepare yourself for the worst.” I could only reply, “I don’t know what that looks like. I’m his mom; I can only always and forever hope the best for him.” So his dad and I did the only thing we could think to do; we prayed. He fought and fought and fought. And he and God proved the doctors wrong.
You always had to keep an eye him. Always. He was curious and fearless. Adventure flowed through his veins. He made Dennis the Menace look boring. Sure a white van looks similar to a white board, and permanent marker means nothing to one who lives just for the moment. Life was for the living, and this boy of mine made the most of every minute.
At six, he wanted to play football. “No, people who have had seizures shouldn’t play that sport. It’s dangerous.” Danger sounded fun. He asked again at seven. At eight. And nine. Finally at ten, I relented and prayed he’d hate it. He loved the uniform, the cheerleaders, the team. He even found a way to like coaches that expected the big boys on the team to tackle opponents and tackle them hard. He couldn’t. “I don’t want to hurt anyone.” So his dad paid him $20 to “pancake” someone. For that price, he thought he could and he did. But before the whistle blew on the play, he was already helping pancaked boy back to his feet. My boy took his twenty dollars and announced he was done with football. His heart was too big to sell out on kindness; he didn’t know how to be any other way.
His heart pumps with kindness and generosity. He gifts everyone. When he was younger he would often give away things our family still needed. He didn’t know what an enemy was, until of course he met one as all children inevitably do and he was devastated, wrecked. Stewarding a heart is never a once and done lesson.
Some deny their struggles. Others run. This boy stares them straight and refuses to back down. He’s learned to wrestle well. He’s discovered he’s more than his struggles.
One can’t be fooled by his size and strength; his is a heart that oozes out meekness. You’ll find him quietly being a friend to the friendless, listening with compassion, looking for beauty in overlooked places. He rarely thinks so much of himself that he can’t make much of others. He’s not shy about tenderly receiving from and giving to others Jesus.
We moderns are cushy. We like soft and easy. Not this boy of mine; if there’s a hard way, he’ll find it. Just to show that he can do it. School was always like that for him. Never easy; always hard. Yet this Friday he will be graduating high school and heading to college. He never gave up. He fought to the end to do better, be kinder, and never cave in to being what someone else said he should be. He’s still defying odds.
And this momma’s heart is just all kinds of crazy about a boy like that.
Congratulations, Jay! I am proud of you and like who you are very much. All those mornings I told you to “be a blessing,” I forgot to tell you how much of one you are to me.